What is Migraine
Migraines are characterized by severe head pain often accompanied by other symptoms, which can be disabling in nature. These migraine symptoms include but are not limited to: nausea, vomiting, difficulty speaking, numbness or tingling, and sensitivity to light and sound. Migraines often tend to run in families, and recent research has identified certain genetic components. Migraines can affect people of all ages and often go undiagnosed in young children.
The duration of a migraine attack can vary, however most migraine attacks will last at least four hours. If you are experiencing symptoms for more than three days, you should seek help from your physician or visit the Emergency Room.
Migraine attacks typically go through four phases, although it is possible to have attacks which skip one or more phases. In fact, it is even possible to have a migraine attack without the “headache” phase. This type of migraine is referred to as acephalgic migraine also known as “silent” migraine.
Causes Of Migraine
The cause of migraines is not yet known.
It is suspected that they result from abnormal activity in the brain. This can affect the way nerves communicate as well as the chemicals and blood vessels in the brain. Genetics may make someone more sensitive to the triggers that can cause migraines.
However, the following triggers are likely to set off migraines:
Hormonal changes: Women may experience migraine symptoms during menstruation, due to changing hormone levels.
Emotional triggers: Stress, depression, anxiety, excitement, and shock can trigger a migraine.
Physical causes: Tiredness and insufficient sleep, shoulder or neck tension, poor posture, and physical overexertion have all been linked to migraines. Low blood sugar and jet lag can also act as triggers.
Triggers in the diet: Alcohol and caffeine can contribute to triggering migraines. Some specific foods can also have this effect, including chocolate, cheese, citrus fruits, and foods containing the additive tyramine. Irregular mealtimes and dehydration have also been named as potential triggers.
Medications: Some sleeping pills, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) medications, and the combined contraceptive pill have all been named as possible triggers.
Triggers in the environment: Flickering screens, strong smells, second-hand smoke, and loud noises can set off a migraine. Stuffy rooms, temperature changes, and bright lights are also possible triggers.
Signs of Migraine
Symptoms of migraine can start a while before the headache, immediately before the headache, during the headache, and after the headache. Although not all migraines are the same, typical symptoms include:
moderate to severe pain, usually confined to one side of the head but capable of occurring on either side of the head
severe, throbbing, or pulsing pain
increasing pain during physical activity or when straining
inability to perform regular activities due to pain
feeling sick and physically vomiting
increased sensitivity to light and sound, relieved by lying quietly in a darkened room
Some people experience other symptoms such as sweating, temperature changes, stomach ache, and diarrhea.
Prevention of Migraine
It’s important to learn to spot the signs and triggers of your migraine to help prevent them. The easiest way of doing this is by keeping a diary about your migraines.Keeping active by doing 30 minutes of exercise of moderate intensity on five or more days a week may also help prevent migraines. There are also certain drugs meant for the prevention of migraine. Make sure you use only high quality drugs in your treatment. Do not buy anti-migraine online from an online pharmacy, if you are not sure about its effects on your body.
Migraines are often managed through a course of medication. There are many different types of migraine medication, including painkillers.
Painkillers should be taken early in the progress of a migraine rather than allowing the headache to develop.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications effective for treating migraines include:
Other painkillers, such as aspirin with caffeine and acetaminophen, can often stop the headache or reduce pain.
How to differentiate between migraine or a different type of headache
No specific physical findings are found when patients are experiencing a routine migraine headache. If an abnormality is identified on physical examination, there should be suspicion of another cause for the headache.
According to the International Classification of Headache Disorders 3 (ICHD) criteria for migraine without aura, a patient must have had at least five headache attacks fulfilling the following criteria:
Headache attacks lasting 4 to 72 hours (untreated or unsuccessfully treated)
The headache has at least two of the following characteristics:
- Unilateral location
- Pulsating quality
- Moderate or severe pain intensity
- Aggravation by or causing avoidance of routine physical activity (for example, walking or climbing stairs)
During the headache, at least one of the following characteristics:
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Photophobia and/or phonophobia
The headache cannot be attributed to another disorder
MYTH: A migraine is just a big headache
FACT: Headache is just one of the symptoms associated with migraines. Other symptoms are neck pain, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound. During a migraine attack, the person can become unable to function normally.
MYTH: Only women suffer from migraines
FACT: Both, men and women, can get migraine attacks. In fact, according to researches, migraines affect 1 out of 7 women and 1 out of 18 men. It’s just the hormonal changes in women that explains why migraines are more common among women than men.
MYTH: A migraine can be caused by depression or anxiety
FACT: Although there may be some links between migraines and psychological health, it is not caused by depression or anxiety. However, depression and anxiety can increase the number of attacks and cause severe pain.
MYTH: There is no cure for migraines. i have to endure my pain
FACT: It is a fact that there is no cure for migraines. But, it is also a fact that you can control them. There are few medications and healthy lifestyle habits that can help control migraine attacks.
MYTH: I shouldn’t do too much physical exercise, if i have migraines
FACT: Regular exercise can help control migraines. However, if you notice that physical exercise is triggering migraines, consult a doctor immediately.
MYTH: Children are not affected by migraines
FACT: Migraines can affect children. However, migraines in children may not last as long as those in adults.
MYTH: Migraines occur due to strong pressure in the head’s blood vessels
FACT: Few years back, it was believed that migraines occur due to strong pressure in the head’s blood vessels. However, now it is believed that an abnormal reaction in the brain’s neurons causes migraines.